Hampton Station is a neighborhood pizza joint in Tampa, Florida, serving craft beers in a laid-back environment.
It was a local favorite until the owner, Troy Taylor, put up a sign that isolated one particular demographic: children. The Tampa Bay Times reports that after a recent incident, Taylor decided to declare his restaurant a kid-free zone by plastering up a sign that shouted:
Obviously, the people of Tampa had a lot to say on the matter, with responses ranging from outrage to support. However, Taylor explained that he had a good reason for his decision:
“A kid was in danger and could have seriously been hurt. It’s a liability and safety issue. After the incident, I thought, this can’t happen again.”
The Tampa Bay Times wrote:
He cited the restaurant patio’s unfettered access to the traffic on nearby Nebraska, with unsavory elements lurking in adjacent hotels. When you mix alcohol, dogs and kids, it’s not always going to end well, he said.
“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. It’s been gut-wrenching. I’m not a big social media person, but I’ve stayed away from Facebook.”
Despite the conflicting feelings Taylor has, customers and Facebook commenters alike did not hesitate to make their opinions known. Someone posted the news in a Tampa Bay Moms’ Group Facebook page, the Tampa Bay Times reports, and the responses poured in.
The newspaper mentioned that one angry Facebook user questioned whether Taylor’s actions displayed “some type of discrimination,” while another said banning all kids was “horrible just because they had a few bad eggs.”
On the other hand, many came to the restaurant’s defense. Mother of two and frequent Hampton Station customer Courtney Mattina said:
“I’m happy to see restaurants are taking a stand and saying, ‘We don’t want kids in here being noisy or messy, we’re going to create an environment for adults only.’ I was a waitress for six years and kids running around a restaurant is one of the most dangerous things in the world.”
The Tampa Bay Times reports that:
Under federal law, businesses are allowed to call their shots when it comes to kids. The law forbids discrimination regarding race, religion and other categories, but there’s not the same broad protection for children.
Mattina continued, according to the Tampa Bay Times:
More people bring their kids to dinner these days because of dual-working parents, she posited, and thought more parents are drinking around their kids. Parents are attentive on that first craft beer, and less so by the third.
While people may disagree on Taylor’s decision, everyone agrees that “children’s safety is of paramount importance.”